Today’s Right2Change protest took place in Dublin City Center . The turnout for today’s protest ranged from 20,000 as quoted by RTE, which was in contrast to the 80,000 stated by the organisers of the rally.
The Right2Water campaign has expanded to a Right2Change movement, calling not only for the abolition of Irish Water but commitments on housing, employment, health and public debt.
The demonstration halted at a stage erected on College Green, where protestors were informed by the coordinator of the rally, Brendan Ogle “So far, 106 candidates have signed up to the Right2Change policy principles – the principles which would underpin a new progressive government. Today, many of them came to Dublin and took to the stage to say ‘another Ireland is possible’.” “This coming Friday, 26 February, people in every constituency will have a chance to vote for one or more ‘Candidates4Change‘. Another Ireland will become possible on polling day,” Mr Ogle concluded.
The Right2Change principals are supported by Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, The Workers Party and a number of other left wing groups and independents. The trade unions Unite, Mandate, CPSU, Communication Workers Union and the plasterers union OPATSI are supporting the campaign.
The demonstration began at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square at 2pm. The protestors made their way up O’Connell Street and around Christ Church finally halting outside the Central Bank, on College Green.
The rally received very little attention in the national media and signifies the massive role of social media, local communities, activists and trade union representatives in organising a national demonstration in the heart of the capital.
The rally was organised by the Right2Change campaign group who were protesting over various issues ranging from the water charges to the numerous austerity measures imposed on the Irish people.
The leading spokesperson Brendan Ogle introduced a number of guest speakers in support of the campaign. The atmosphere among the protestors was breath taking as they chanted all the way venting their frustration with current government from Remembrance Garden to College Green. The on stage antics finished with a selection of candidates in support of the values of Right2Change from around the various constituencies.
In an interview with Newstalk, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said, “In the last weekend of the campaign Enda Kenny and the government parties are ratcheting up their scare tactics. Their policy positions have no credibility because for the vast majority of families there is no recovery.
“Enda Kenny wants to be returned to power to continue his austerity policies and his chaotic management of the health service. There is a better way to govern our society. To build a fair recovery and a better Ireland,” Mr Adams added.
Before the rally the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and Aid to Citizens (ATTAC) handed out leaflets outside the Gresham hotel, on O’Connell Street. The decision to distribute the leaflets was taken in a bid to increase awareness of the forthcoming free trade agreements Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
The leaflets distributed were intended to inform the Right2Change protestors of the implications these forthcoming free trade agreements have on the privatisation of Irish water. The coverage of these free trade agreements has been minimal in national media, although all of the political parties in the running for the general election have published their stance on these agreements.
A milestone in the fight against TTIP has been won by Clare County Council’s local authority, who voted to declare itself, as Ireland’s first TTIP-Free zone. The decision by the people of Clare to reject TTIP in their constituency is a massive step in the growth of awareness of these new types of free trade agreements. Currently 3,401,718 fellow European’s have signed the STOP TTIP & CETA petition.
Post march there was a meeting organised by the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit in Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street. The event showcased guest TD speakers such as; Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie during the rally, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy stated that this demonstration represented ‘the birth of a new left’. Adding “This is the birth of a new left – that won’t sell people out,” he said. “The water charges movement has been key… to showing how you can have power, how people can fight back and how the water charges can be beaten.” “People are here because it’s an anti-water charges, anti-austerity protest,”
Murphy’s final comments was that the turnout at the march would be reflected next week in the polls.“This reflects what’s happened, in terms of the fall of the Labour Party and rise of the left,”
As today’s demonstration ended, a group from the Irish Housing Network took to the stage to raise the issue of homelessness and to demand equal rights to housing and fair treatment for all, ahead of next week’s election.